“No matter how hopeless or bleak things appear, the moment always comes when suddenly our spirit revives, and hope is reborn. That is why we must never give up.” – Daisaku Ikeda
During this time of coronacraziness, people around the world are stuck in their homes by themselves either with loved ones, or, in some cases, not-so-loved ones. And, some don’t have a home at all. When Most Beautiful One (MBO) and I lived in northern Virginia, our two daughters usually had time off from school during severe winter storms. At first it felt exhilarating to be together, but after a few days it became exhausting. How challenging it must be now for families like our older daughter’s during these months of never-ending virtual snow days.
MBO and I are used to being home together. So, the first several weeks of this forced stay-at-home situation were a breeze. However, as the weeks have dragged on, we’ve had instances of becoming impatient with each other. These meaningless squabbles are, to use a technical term, ridiculous!
A week ago, I happened upon some advice in an article by Jancee Dunn on Medium.com that has helped. After struggling to get along, Jancee and her husband received some remarkably simple and effective guidance from their therapist:
“‘Here is a rule I want you to live by,’ the therapist announced after an excruciating pause. ‘I would like you to make a commitment to what I call Full Respect Living.’ The premise was simple, he said: Nothing you do or say to each other should drop below the level of simple respect. If an argument was brewing, we were to ask ourselves: Is what I’m about to say or do respectful? If it isn’t, he said, don’t do it.”
Wise words, indeed. Speaking of becoming a better person, it just so happens that one of the songs I sing in our blues band is “A Better Man” by blues great, Keb’ Mo’. The chorus of the song goes like this:
I’m gonna make my world a better place
I’m gonna keep that smile on my face
I’m gonna teach myself how to understand
I’m gonna make myself a better man
In the early 1970s, Keb’ (or Kevin as I knew him) and I were both in a youth marching band in Los Angeles. Kevin was one of the kindest people MBO and I knew back then. I lost touch with him until we saw him perform in 2018 in Edmonds, WA. Together with Laura and Joe Van Dyke (on the left), MBO and I were able to catch up with him backstage after the show. Keb’ still had that wide, warm smile.
In these current times, it’s easy to get mired in the constant news regurgitation of ignorant behavior at all levels of our society. Sadly, people have always had destructive tendencies. But, we each get to choose what we see and how we react to the world. I particularly appreciate Keb’s genuineness and optimism which have enabled him to write songs like “Life is Beautiful” that celebrate the hope that exists even in the darkest times.
Life is beautiful, life is wondrous
Every star above shining just for us
Life is beautiful, on a stormy night
Somewhere in the world the sun is shining bright
At the same time, his personal honesty about relationships resulted in the humorous song, “Old Me Better.” (You can view my band’s version from a January concert at the Schorn Barn in Kingston.) The lyrics of the chorus speak for themselves:
I liked the old me better, I was a lot more fun.
I liked the old me better, didn’t take crap from anyone.
Well I’d sleep all day, party all night.
Do whatever I wanted whenever I liked.
You made me a better man, but I liked the old me better.
In my case, I can thankfully say I’m a different man because of MBO, and I like the new me better!
Please stay home and stay safe.
Other titles by Mike during Covid-19:
Pema Chodron and the Coronavirus
Helen Keller and the Coronavirus
Prince Hamlet and the Coronavirus
Davy Jones and the Coronavirus
ABOUT MIKE LISAGOR – Mike Lisagor plays harmonica and sings in Good Karma Blues. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and blogs on a variety of business and Buddhist related topics. He is the author of “Romancing the Buddha,” which he adapted into a successful one-man show that he performed at Bainbridge Performing Arts and in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. His nature photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Living Buddhism as well as in several local galleries. His latest graphic art project, “Reimagined Nature”, is in the lobby of New Motion Physical Therapy.